"Computer technology" redirects here. For the company, see Computer Technology Limited. For other uses, see Computer (disambiguation).
The Columbia Supercomputer, located at the NASA Ames Research Center.
An HP laptop computer.
A computer is a programmable machine that receives input, stores and manipulates data//information, and provides output in a useful format.
While a computer can, in theory, be made out of almost anything (see misconceptions section), and mechanical examples of computers have existed through much of recorded human history, the first electronic computers were developed in the mid-20th century (1940–1945). Originally, they were the size of a large room, consuming as much power as several hundred modern personal computers (PCs). Modern computers based on integrated circuits are millions to billions of times more capable than the early machines, and occupy a fraction of the space. Simple computers are small enough to fit into mobile devices, and can be powered by a small battery. Personal computers in their various forms are icons of the Information Age and are what most people think of as "computers". However, the embedded computers found in many devices from MP3 players to fighter aircraft and from toys to industrial robots are the most numerous.
1.1 Required technology
1.2 Computer architecture paradigms
1.3 Limited-function computers
1.4 Virtual computers
2 History of computing
2.1 Limited-function ancient computers
2.2 First general-purpose computers
2.3 Stored-program architecture
2.4 Semiconductors and microprocessors
3.1 Stored program architecture
3.3 Machine code
3.4 Higher-level languages and program design
4.1 Control unit
4.2 Arithmetic/logic unit (ALU)
4.4 Input/output (I/O)
4.7 Networking and the Internet
5 Further topics
5.1 Artificial intelligence